Rep. Ilhan Omar was accused of being recruited by a foreign government in testimony presented in a Florida court.
The Minnesota Democrat was allegedly recruited and funded by Qatar and “passed sensitive information through intermediates to Iran,” according to a report in The Jerusalem Post which has sparked a debate about the credibility of the information.
A spokesperson for Omar, a Somali refugee and one of the first two Muslims – along with Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan – to be elected to Congress, slammed the “outlandishly absurd story” as false. But the testimony was reportedly given in the trial of Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al-Thani, a brother of the Qatari emir, who is accused of holding an American citizen hostage and ordering his bodyguard to kill two people.
The deposition by Canadian businessman Alan Bender, who was born in Kuwait, was obtained by Al Arabiya English, and authenticated by the attorney for the plaintiffs, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Bender told the Florida District Court in testimony via a video link from Toronto that he had met with two senior Qatari officials along with Mohammad bin Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Masnad, Qatar’s Secretary to the BEmir for Security Affairs.
“If it wasn’t for our cash, Ilhan Omar would be just another black Somali refugee in America collecting welfare and serving tables on weekends,” the men allegedly told him, Bender testified.
He also noted that he refused a request by the men to recruit American politicians and journalists as Qatari assets, telling the court that Omar was described as the “jewel in the crown” by the officials who also revealed that other prominent figures were already recruited.
Qatar “recruited Ilhan Omar from even way before she thought about becoming a government official… They groomed her and arranged the foundation, the grounds, for her to get into politics way before she even showed interest. They convinced her,” Bender testified.
Omar allegedly swore allegiance to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a 2017 meeting when she was serving as a junior state representative in Minnesota, Bender reportedly told the court. The congresswoman, who has been a vocal critic of Israel, also allegedly passed information to Qatar which ended up being passed on to Iran. Omar came under scrutiny last month when she became the only House Democrat to vote against imposing sanctions against Turkey.
According to the Post’s report on Bender’s testimony, Omar was “actively involved in recruiting other American politicians to likewise work for the west Asian Islamic country.”
“The best thing money can buy is American officials, because they are the cheapest of the cheapest-costing officials in the world,” the officials from Qatar reportedly told Bender.
Omar’s spokesperson blasted the report as the latest example of “misinformation and conspiracy theories” aimed at the Minnesota lawmaker who, along with Tlaib, and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, make up the group of four first-term, progressive Democratic congresswomen dubbed “The Squad.”
“Since the day she was elected, Saudi Arabian trolls and mouthpieces have targeted Omar with misinformation and conspiracy theories,” the spokesperson said in a statement to The Jerusalem Post.
“The latest, outlandishly absurd story from a Saudi-funded media outlet is of course false and only the latest in that trend,” the statement continued. “The only people Rep. Omar represents in Washington are the people of Minnesota’s 5th District. She will continue to speak out against human rights violations around the world – whether it is war crimes in Yemen or the caging of children at our border – regardless of who commits them.”
Imam Mohammad Tawhidi, the self-declared “Imam of Peace,” has previously warned that Omar is an agent for Qatar and took to Twitter to announce he is “directly involved in the Ilhan-Qatar scandal as a victim of Qatar’s plots and malicious lawsuits; and my name is mentioned all over the Federal US legal deposition.
As speculation abounded on Twitter about whether the report, which was apparently not being reported by the major media, was even credible, the imam continued to post messages, including his claim that the Qatari government hired a lawyer to “demand that Twitter delete my tweets and suspend me for exposing their dirty deals in Congress and the mainstream media.”
The Clarion Project, which describes itself as “a non-profit organization that educates the public about the dangers of radical Islam and other extremist ideologies,” dug into the many parts of the spreading story and determined that the evidence against Omar, in this case, is “flimsy.”
Others, like foreign policy and national security reporter Jordan Schachtel, threw cold water on the quickly spreading story about Omar, who was recently found guilty by the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board of breaking campaign finance rules.